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Joshua Holt Freed, Expected to Arrive In D.C.

31 May, 2018, 18:07 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Joshua Holt in a Venezuelan jail holding a letter he received last Friday from Sen. Orrin Hatch

Surrounded by his family on one couch, and the lawmakers who had long sought his release on another, Holt was welcomed home in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House Sunday evening. US financial sanctions have sharply contributed to the Venezuelan economy's nose dive, and fears have built that the United States - the largest cash buyer of Venezuelan oil - would impose a potentially crippling embargo. He was arrested shortly afterward and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilize the government, according to The Washington Post.

"They are now flying toward the United States", he said.

Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and USA lawmakers.

A former Mormon missionary, Holt had been looking to connect with a Spanish speaker to practice the language, reports NBCnews.com, when he met Candelo, also a Mormon, online.

To Holt, Trump said: "You've gone through a lot".

The U.S. and Venezuela's political opposition have rejected the elections results, labeling it a sham and voicing concerns about reported irregularities in the voting process.

Holt is from Hatch's state of Utah.

The Tennessee Republican met in March with Venezuelan Governor Rafael Lacava in Washington and traveled to Caracas Friday to meet with newly reelected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, his office confirmed.

On Saturday, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez told journalists in Caracas that Holt's release was the product of "months" of "fruitful meetings" between Maduro and US lawmakers.




The U.S. government at first avoided ratcheting up public pressure on Venezuela amid already strained relations between the two countries, but eventually raised Holt's case to the highest levels of the Venezuela government.

Photos show Sen. Bob Corker at Holt's side, helping carry a large black duffel bag.

Holt and his wife were believed to be at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas awaiting transportation to Washington in a chartered flight.

The Maduro government has yet to comment on the reasons for the release.

Josh Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamy, landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. There the couple and their daughter, Marian Leal, reunited with his family in a tearful meeting at the airport. Corker negotiated the release with Maduro.

Holt, who'd been held in the El Helicoide intelligence agency prison, published a Facebook video earlier this month pleading for help and claiming his life was in danger. She says that a fellow inmate at their Caracas jail relayed information Friday night that prison officials were discussing their release.

The family of a Utah man jailed in a Venezuelan jail for two years calls his release a miracle.

Holt, who had changed from his blue jeans into a navy blue suit and tie for the White House visit, looked calm and at ease sitting next to Trump.

They also ask to be allowed to meet Holt and his wife before making any public statements.

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